Turnaround of Air NZ flight to Shanghai not a 'relationship' issue with China, PM says

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the reason an Air New Zealand plane was turned back from Shanghai yesterday was an “administrative error” rather than politically motivated. 

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The Prime Minister says the aircraft was refused permission to land in Shanghai because it was not registered with Chinese authorities. Source: 1 NEWS

The flight was refused entry to Shanghai, with airport officials saying it had no regulatory authority to land there. 

National Party leader Simon Bridges says questions need to be asked.

"We need to know what has happened here. Is it part of the ongoing deterioration in relations between this NZ Govt & China?" he tweeted yesterday.

Mr Bridges told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating and suggested the flight return might also be related to this.

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The National Party leader’s comments comes as Air NZ flight was denied entry into China on February 10. Source: Breakfast

But Ms Ardern this afternoon said the turnaround of the flight was "very much an administrative issue".

“Aircraft travelling into China require to be registered. This aircraft was not. That is the issue that has occurred here," she said during her post-Cabinet news conference.

Ms Ardern was asked if she would be seeking assurances from Chinese authorities that the turnaround of the plane wasn't politically motivated.

"I see absolutely no need given that Air New Zealand have said themselves they know exactly what the issue was, that they did not meet requirements on behalf of China. And as a resiult they understand what has occurred in this situation and there's an explanation for it," she replied.

"I think it is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship. And I think Air New Zealand have been very clear on that form their perspective," the Prime Minister said.